Millions of people are downloading iOS 6 right now, and many will use the Facebook contact sync feature to pull in photos and current phone numbers of friends. But rather than your real email address, they’re going to pull in hundreds of @facebook.com addresses. These addresses don’t actually deliver to your email, but instead to your Facebook Messages Inbox.
Why? Because with little notice, Facebook changed everyone’s email address visibility settings in June to hide the Gmail or other addresses we purposefully shared with friends, leaving just our @facebook.com addresses. If you don’t want to miss out on email from friends, here’s how you undo Facebook’s change.
Why would Facebook do this? Read our followup that points to pressure from Apple in hopes of keeping Gmail addresses out of iPhones.
To make sure friends can see and contact sync the email addresses you want:
1. Visit your profile and click the “About” link on the left side below your cover.
2. In the bottom right click “Edit” in the Contact Info section.
3. In the top right, toggle “Hidden from Timeline” to “Shown on Timeline” for any personal email addresses you want people to see
4. Select exactly who you want to see that email address with the privacy control just to the left of the visibility toggle.
5. Consider hiding your @facebook.com address if you don’t want emails coming to your Facebook Messages inbox.
With this completed, you’ll be sharing your real email addresses with the people you want to give access to, and anyone who syncs their iOS 6 contacts will get the right email address.
If you don’t, friends might not able to find your real email address. iOS 6 Facebook contact sync will also create an additional contact card for you in your friends devices that lists your @facebook.com address instead of your real one. People might think they’re sending you email, but you might miss them since they’re delivered to your Facebook Messages inbox instead.
I talked to Facebook yesterday and it admitted “we could have done more than we did” to notify and educate people about the change. The little box alerting people to the change was buried inside the About page where few people saw it. “That was something we could have done a little bit better.”
But an apology like that is not sufficient. Adding new visibility controls that override user privacy controls without proper notice is totally unacceptable.
Hopefully enough people are outraged like me and will tell their friends to undo the damage done by Facebook’s meddling. If we can negate any benefit Facebook would get from altering what we share with friends without our permission, it will be less likely to make these invasive changes in the future.